Going on vacation is great, everyone looks forward to it. Starting a research paper, may not be so great; some say it’s at the opposite end of the enjoyment spectrum. However, once we change the way we look at things, we’ll realise things are not as difficult as we first thought. Planning your vacation trip and planning your research can be very similar. Let’s have fun together with these 8 tips! Can’t hurt right?
1. Switch to Scholarly Mode
Just like when you board the plane to start a journey and you need to switch the mode on your smartphone. The same goes when you are about to start a research paper. You need to prepare your mind to think like a scholar, and use scholarly resources. So start by flipping the switch in your mind.
2. Look Up a Guidebook
When you’re planning what do and where to go on a trip, chances are, you’d consult a guidebook. Did you know you can do the same when starting your Communication Research? We know starting your research can be daunting and confusing, but you never have to start from scratch. You can rely on reference works. These are written by experienced researchers, they provide great introductions, trustworthy references and helpful suggestions. Sure,Wikipedia is useful too, but remember, you may not always know who’s writing those Wikipedia entries. Ask yourself who would you trust more, an experienced travel guide, or a person (whose credentials are not known) just writing about the place. Below are some great reference works to consult for Communication Research.
• International Encyclopaedia of Communication Online
• Oxford Bibliographies Online
• Dictionary of Media and Communication Studies
3. Different Sources Always Help
As you look around for information for your trip, you may turn to various sources, for example, people who’ve been there, destination reviews and travel magazines. Well, research in many ways is similar, it just has a different terminology. In research there are three main types of sources to look at:
• Primary sources: where researchers to get as close as possible to original ideas
• Secondary sources: where writers analyse, review or restate information found in primary resources, or other secondary resources
• Tertiary resources: where authors and editors provide data in a convenient form such as encyclopaedias, journals and textbooks.
4. Get the Right Currency
Going to the money changer to get the correct currency is a must. In research, you need to look at currency as well, just not the monetary kind. In research, currency means ‘currency of information’ or how ‘new’ the information is. Take note though, just like how different countries have different currencies, different academic disciplines have different consideration of what is considered ‘current information’ . In Science, Technology and Medicine, information can become outdated in less than five years, but in the Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, information published from decades ago may still be relevant.
5. Lessen the Load
Travel light, or lighten your load you must. You only want to carry what you can manage, so you carefully select what you need to pack. You can lighten your research load by filtering your search to only look at peer reviewed journals. These journals are deemed to be of higher quality. Such journals are usually published by reputable organizations, lend credibility, authority and prestige to their authors and their works. Using Library search tools like OneSearch allows you to filter your search with just one click.
6. The Ultimate Kit
Don’t you love the all-in-one travel kit? The one with the shampoo, conditioner, body wash and so on. Takes the headache out of looking for every small items one by one. Communication Research is often conducted in relation to with other disciplines, such as Psychology, Sociology, Politics, Economics, Technology, Language, Philosophy, History, and Education. (Phew! that is a lot). Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was just one place to search across all these areas, just like having a travel kit with all its items? Then you need a database, the Communication & Mass Media Complete (CMMC) database to be exact. It covers more than 650 journals across a wide spectrum of research areas related to communication and mass media. Plus, databases take up no room in your luggage and they weigh nothing at all.
7. Proving I was There.
I have been there and I have the images to prove it. Ok maybe this is not exactly why you took so many photos when you’re on vacation, but in some ways these images are a testimony that you actually did visit a place. You need proof in your research as well. You need academic proof to support or deny the statements and claims you make in your research. But when you use someone else’s work, you need to credit it. You do this by making sure all works are well cited. This ensures you attribute ideas to the source, avoid plagiarism, and build arguments. Proper citation also indicates mastery of the topic at hand. Using a citation style such as the APA Style gives your readers a consistent way to understand your evidence.
8. Asking for Directions
We all get lost sometimes, especially when we are in a new country. So just like it is normal to ask for directions from the locals, if you get lost in your research, you can always Ask-A-Librarian. You will find us pointing you in the right direction and shifting you back on the right path, if you go off-road. Just like the locals in any country, we have the inside scope on the best places to get information. But if you want to talk to us about your holiday plans, we love to hear that too.